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Posted on: February 27, 2009 1:38 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2009 2:58 pm
 

3 Reasons Winslow Trave Good for Browns

It seems Eric Mangini is wasting little time in putting his stamp on this franchise.

The trade of outspoken TE Kellen Winslow is the first significant move made by the Kokinis/Mangini tandem.

For the Browns, this surprise move is a huge step forward in changing the culture and attitude of the organization. Kellen Winslow, while a supreme talent on the field, is a notoriously opinionated tight end with a pension for expressing himself to the media. In Eric Mangini's anti-media era of Browns football, such a persona goes against everything demanded out of players on this roster.

For Mangini to truly run a Belichickian ship, every member of this organization must share the team-first philosophy implimented by the coach. Over the past 4 years, Kellen Winslow has consistently proven his individualism exceeds such a philosophy, and that most likely culminated in his release.

From a risk-reward standpoint, trading Kellen Winslow at the presumed height of his career has many positive ramifications for the Browns. Winslow spent the first two years of his career in Cleveland on the physically unable to perform list. The oft-injured tight end has had multiple surgeries on both knees only 5 years into what was supposed to be an illustrious NFL career. Put simply: dealing Kellen Winslow eliminates a great injury liability for the Browns.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, Kellen Winslow is not the prototypical tight end that would allow for offensive balance and deception. Winslow's pass protection is sub-par and his run-blocking non-existent. For Brian Daboll to run a truly balanced offensive system, the tight end must be adept in both pass catching and run blocking. A one-dimensional player like Kellen can tip off opposing defenses to the play based on formation and personnel groupings - a virtual death sentence in the AFC North. 

 

While a supreme talent on the field, the injury-ridden Kellen Winslow
was not suited to the new regime.

 

From a football perspective, I would have liked to see Kellen Winslow stay with the team in a potential conversion to wide receiver. With the success of tall, phyiscal pass catchers in the mold of Terrell Owens and Larry Fitzgerald, Winslow's size and toughness could have given Cleveland a dangerous weapon that created mismatches against smaller defenders. Despite this I agree with the move based the changing culture of the Browns' franchise.

 

 

Category: NFL
Posted on: February 23, 2009 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2009 3:45 pm
 

Nigerians in the NFL

It started with two men and a dream.

The first of these was a legendary football coach. A man so intellectually ahead of his peers that he could be credited with developing the National Football League into what it is today. An iron-willed visionary whose pure love for the game revolutionized the perception of black athletes in an era filled with racism and bigotry. Yes, Paul Brown may have unlocked the door to integration of professional football in the 1940s, but it was another man’s dream that kicked the door down.

The social revolution spurred by Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech turned millions on to the idea of racial equality and acceptance. Thanks in large part to these two individuals, the NFL experienced a growth period of diversity that forever changed the landscape of professional sports.

Today, the NFL has made even greater strides in diversity among ethnic groups. Look no further than the recent signing of Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha as evidence of this progression. Asomugha, a first generation Nigerian-American, just agreed to the most lucrative contract ever awarded to a defensive back. The 3-year, 45.3 million dollar deal signed last week demonstrates how far the league has come in acceptance of black foreign athletes.

For players like Nnamdi Asomugha, it took more than a dream to turn his NFL aspirations into reality.

It took a nightmare.

Christian “The Nigerian Nightmare” Okoye lead the way for Asomugha and the over 50 past and present Nigerians to play the game of football. In 1989, Christian Okoye was one of the most feared running backs of his time. Known for his discipline, toughness and extreme physicality, Okoye showed the world a new brand of football the likes of which no one has ever seen before. The Nigerian Nightmare gained popularity among fans and coaches alike – becoming the first player of Nigerian decent to be named to the NFL All-Pro team.

Christian Okoye was born in Enugu, just a few miles north of Port Harcourt.

How much Christian Okoye did for Nigerian-American athletes can only be measured in the recent success shared by his countrymen in recent history. Defensive linemen such as Adewale Ogunleye, Osi Umenyiora, and Chike Okeafor have achieved fame and notoriety on the field thanks to their superior style of play. Young talents like Nnamdi Asomugha, Amobi Okoye, and Chinedum Ndukwe all show promise and signs of productivity.

The dreams of Paul Brown and Dr. Martin Luther King have paved the way for athletic diversity on all levels. The Nigerian Nightmare and a host of other Nigerian-American athletes have taken advantage of these dreams, which has resulted in positive contributions to the nation’s unofficial pastime. The ethnicity which these players champion fosters acceptance of Africans into mainstream society and tolerance of different cultures.

And that is a dream no one should ever wake up from.

Posted on: February 8, 2009 6:24 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2009 6:28 pm
 

Legalize Steroids

Yes, it's true - that is no misprint. Major League Baseball should legalize steroids and end this madness once and for all.

When it comes down to it, what are steroids as used in professional sports? Anabolic steroids, the ones Alex Rodriguez and a host of other athletes have allegedly tested for, have been deemed illegal by USFDA and have been banned from major sports as a result.

But why are they banned in the first place?

The thinking behind banning steroids most likely goes something like this:

1. Steroids can alter an athlete's performance and create an imbalance in the competitive nature of the game.
2. Steroids have a negative impact on the health of these athletes.
3. Therefore, steroids should be banned from athletic competition.

There are several problems with this line of thinking. If the true aim of the baseball powers that be was to create a perfectly competitive environment, they have already failed in part. There are millions of different variables that go into whether one baseball player can outperform another, and no one is on the same level to begin with.

Without listing steroids as a factor, two players with similar talent level can be completely different based on the choices they  make. If one player takes legal supplements every day, diets and exercises properly, and generally takes good care of his body, he will have an significant competitive advantage over a player who neglects to do any of these things.

The second part of this theory speaks to the health risks imposed by steroids. While it is true that anabolic steroids have been linked to harmful changes in cholesterol levels, liver damage, high blood pressure, and structural damage to the heart, almost all of these health risks can be found in something so common as a cigarette. These athletes are fully grown men who play at the highest level in sports. Grown men and women should be allowed to weigh the risks and rewards of a given decision and determine whether they subjugate themselves to its consequences.

Anabolic steroids are simply a means to an end. Like cigarettes relieving stress or Viagra enhancing performance, steroids produce a benefit with several potential consequences attached to it. If the sporting world doesn't ban substances with a negative affect on performance, what sense does it make to ban those with a positive effect? Professional athletes should either be fully regulated in terms of substances or not.

 


 

If an appeal to logic and common sense is found unsound, a more humanistic view of the game will suffice.

Baseball is a game of tradition and heroes. Part of what makes the game so special is the players that captivate us with their triumphs and failures. If the heroes which make the game so exciting are constantly vilified and made out to be worse than they are, the game itself will suffer and interest will fade. Without athletes to celebrate, baseball becomes a mechanical sport void of passion and excitement.

If anything, legalizing steroids will give the sports world a more clear view of athletes and the values they stand for. Getting this issue out in the open where it can be discussed as well as researched thoroughly would clear up misconceptions as well as provide a potentially safer way for people who decide to partake in this activity.

 


 

People make positive and negative decisions that affect their lives every day. We as a society must decide whether or not to embrace the ideas of freedom and personal liberty.

And maybe this madness will finally come to an end.

Posted on: February 4, 2009 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2009 2:24 pm
 

Coke's Polamalu Commercial Was Tasteless

Something has been bothering me for quite some time, and it had nothing to do with the Super Bowl.

Coca-Cola's 2009 re-creation of "Mean" Joe Greene's Ad was tasteless and void of humor.

(For those fortunate enough to have missed this sham of an advertisement, you can watch it here .)

 


 

We as sports fans tend to glorify places or events from the past. The legends from yesterday are hailed as some of the greatest to ever play the game, and for that they are untouchable in the eyes of many.

The generation who grew up with football in the 1970s and '80s really had something special. At the time, America's love affair with the NFL was in its infancy statges, and that resulted in a genuine appreciation for the game like never before. Iconic players like Dick Butkus were the embodiment of toughness, and were exonerated because of it. Such appreciation of cherished athletes led to endorsement deals, which by many accounts were received with wonder and astonishment.

The crown jewel of such advertisements came on September 1st, 1979, when the Coca-Cola company released The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid . The commerical found instant success and popularity, and was even adapted into a made for television movie.

Now fastforward to 2009. The Steelers are in the Super Bowl and the geniuses over at Coca-Cola decide to remake their commercial once again - this time substituting new Steelers' icon Troy Polamalu in Greene's place. The idea of recreating such a genuine cinematic moment is thrilling. A new generation of football fans finally gets to experience what their parents and relatives held so dear.

Not quite.

After a 12 second teaser of what the commerical should have been, Coke employed their 'comedy team' (and I use that term lightly) of the Coke brand managers. They proceed to steal the bottle and run away only to be speared by Polamalu. Troy drinks the beverage, rips of the man's shirt off with one hand, and tosses the shirt to the kid in a fashion similar to that used almost 30 years ago.

How dare they.

Is nothing sacred anymore? I understand physical comedy and dancing monkeys are the call of the day, but this took it way too far. Those two obscure advertising lackeys interrupted something that could have transcended television and lasted for another 30 years. I was shocked the industry could have fallen so low.

Coca-Cola had a chance to give a new generation of fans something special. Instead, they mocked a cherished piece of history and cheapened one of the greatest commercials of all time.

 

Shame on you Coke. I'm drinking Pepsi now and for the rest of my life.

 

Posted on: February 1, 2009 11:44 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2009 12:22 am
 

Steelers Won With Thugs

"A little integrity is better than any career." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Take a moment to consider that statement by American-born philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Reaching the summit of any career or job pales in comparison to the core values of integrity and honesty. For Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes, these words mean absolutely nothing.

Harrison made arguably the defining play in Sunday's Super Bowl win over the Arizona Cardinals. On a would-be touchdown pass from Kurt Warner to Anquan Boldin, Warner misjudged the Steelers linebacker which resulted in a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown. The play came at the end of the half, and derailed a Cardinals team heading full steam into halftime with hopes of drawing the deficit to 3. Harrison's pivotal pick was arguably the most important play of the first half.

Look no further than Santonio Holmes' TD reception with 0:35 seconds left for the defining play of the second half. With former Steelers great and Hall of Fame receivier Lynn Swann looking on, Holmes showed the acrobatics of his counterpart, and came down with the go-ahead score which proved to be the difference in the game.

The Steelers could not have won the Super Bowl without Harrison and Holmes.

That brings me back to Emerson's statement about integrity.

Both men have none.

Last year, James Harrison was charged with assaulting a woman he claimed to be his girlfriend. After a heated argument, Harrison repeatedly threatened a woman named Beth Tibbot. Fearing for her personal safety, Beth locked herself in a bedroom and attempted to call 911. Harrison broke down the door, shattered her phone by thowing it to the ground, and then allegedly hit her across the face.

Around the same time, Santonio Holmes was charged with his second misdemeanor marijuana possession after being pulled over while driving. Police found lit cigars in his car which most likely indicated he used the drug while driving. Holmes' reckless actions endangered the lives of those on the road, and demonstrated severe irresponsibility.

So congratulations, Steelers fans. Your team won the Super Bowl on the efforts of a womanizer and a drug dealer.

A little integrity is better than a career's worth of accomplishments.

Unfortunately for you, those two players have none.

Holmes was a chronic factor in the win

Harrison beat Fitzgerald for the score

Posted on: January 24, 2009 11:25 am
 

Browns Nickname Game: Completed!

About a week ago, former Browns great Donte "Gluefingers" Lavelli passed away. In honor of Lavelli and his catchy nickname, I started a thread on the Browns message board here on CBSSports.com asking members of the community to pitch ideas to nickname other Browns players. The response was great and I thank everyone for their input!

I've compiled a list of my favorites here. There were so many good ones it became difficult for me to chose, but that's why they pay me the free bucks, right?


Quarterbacks

"Double Coverage" Derek Anderson (Ugh...see 2008 season)

"My Fair" Brady Quinn (He has a pretty face...I guess)

Ken "The Cannon" Dorsey (Unbelieveable arm strength. Unbelieveable.)

"Cut Loose" Bruce Gradkowski (He's not coming back)

 

Running Backs

Jamal "Twinkletoes" Lewis (Watch tape on him and you'll see why)

Jerome "The Jukebox" Harrison (More juke than a jukebox)

"Paging" Jason Wright (Has a degree in medicine)

 

Fullbacks

"Vicious" Lawrence Vickers (Self-explanitory)

Charles "Butterfly" Ali (He's the greatest backup fullback!)

 

Wide Receivers

"Inauspicious" Joe Jurevicius (Goes about his job without hassle)

Braylon "Stonefingers" Edwards (Ugh...see 2008 season)

Syndric "Steptoe-thru-the-tulips" (Pop culture reference)

"Colonel" Steve Sanders (He's too chicken to go over the middle)

Donte' Stallworth-less (2008 season stats: 17 rec. 170 yards, 1TD)

 

Tight Ends

"K2: The Chosen One" Kellen Winslow (Self-proclaimed)

Steve "Where are you" Heiden (He needs to see more playing time!)

Darnell "Dink-and-Dunkins" (When he's in the game, that's our offense)

Martin "Mother" Rucker (Pop culture reference)

 

Offensive Linemen

Joe "Don't Doubt Me" Thomas (He's legit - seriously!)

"Easy" Eric Steinbach (Can be easily exploited at times / easygoing personality)

Hank "The Tank" Fraley (Road-grader when he wants to be)

Rex "Had-some, then" Hadnot (He used to be good until he came to Cleveland)

Kevin "Swiss Cheese" Shaffer (Ugh...see 2008 season)

 

Defensive Linemen

Shaun "Robaire" Smith (see below)

Robaire "Shaun" Smith (see above)

Shaun "Big Baby" Rogers (Ever the gentle giant)

Corey "Big Money" Williams (6 yrs 38.6 Million - 16.3 Guaranteed)

Kris "Cross" Griffin (Makes you wanna jump!)

Issac "Shaft" Sowells (Can ya dig it?)

 

Outside Linebackers

"Hammerin'" Kamerion Wimbley (For what he will do next season...)

Willie "Or-won't-he-retire" McGinest (Make up your mind already!)

Alex Hall-of-Fame (He may be a rookie, but it's never too early)

Shantee Orr-not (There was promise, but now it's gone)

Antwaan "My career has" Peek-ed (He needs to hang it up for good)

 

Inside Linebackers

Andra "Can't play" Davis (Ugh...see 2008 season)

D'Qwell "My fears" Jackson (Alleviates anxiety about his position)

Beau "Just rang your" Bell (He hits so hard on special teams)

 

Cornerbacks

Eric "If-he's-wrong-I-don't-wanna-be" Wright (So good, it's better to side with him)

Brandon "I'm lovin' it" McDonald (Over 200 million served!)

Terry "Ain't my" Cousin (His coverage skills are so poor, no one wants to claim relation)

Travis "One play" Daniels (We never saw him on the field)

 

Safeties

Brodney "No-running-by-the" Pool (Enforces rules on the field like a lifeguard)

Sean "Six-two" Jones (His number backwards is also his 40-yard dash time)

Nick "White Chocolate" Soreinsten (A white defensive back whose backpedal is smooth as chocolate)

 

Special Teams

Phil "The Stanchion" Dawson (Because now we all know what that is)

"Captain" Josh Cribbs (Plays every position on special teams - wears the "C")

 

Personnel and Coaches

Randy "Slow" Lerner (Fool him once...fool him twice...fool him thrice...fool him...)

Ro-me-"O my aching hip!" Crennel (Haha sorry coach...)

Eric " The Mangenius" (Intelligent young prodigy of a football coach)

Rob "Our new Buddy" Ryan (The next Buddy Ryan?)

Brad Seely "...Feel me" (Bermanism)

 

Phil Savage

"Punxsutawney Phil" Savage (when he sticks his head out, he only reveals trouble)

Phil "Oops I Did It Again" Savage (I traded our picks and drafted some duds.  Oh baby, baby.)

Phil "The Phil" Savage (clearly, we took the blue pill)

"Phil-anthropy" Savage (he has no problem handing out money to people)

"Phildo" Savage (Player agents use him like a sex toy)

Phil "Bill" Savage (you can go $&%@ yourself and root for the Bills )

"Philled Our Roster with Crap" Savage (Ugh...see 2008 season)

 


So there you have it. Thanks to geno2131, M3talhead, Philobotomy, and Freethinker for contributing to this list.

A HUGE thank you to SAStovell for all his contributions. The entire Phil Savage section as well many of the above were was his idea :)

Category: NFL
Posted on: January 19, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: January 19, 2009 11:54 am
 

Super Bowl XLIII: Advantage in the Cards

This one has the makings of a not-so-shocking upset.

The 43rd annual contest between the National and American football champions pits the Steelers against the most surprising of foes: the Arizona Cardinals.

Two coaches. Two philosophies. Two cities.

Two of the most different franchises in the National Football League.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have stood at the apex of professional football for the past four decades. Legends such as Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis have inscribed their names in the pages of history, and grounded a tradition that continues even to this day. Superstar athletes like "Mean" Joe Green and Jack Lambert have changed the way we envision defense and stand as the most decorated athletes to ever play their respective positions. The torch has so seamlessly been passed from generation to generation, leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of the most consistent winners in the game today.

And then there were the Cardinals.

The lowly Cardinals.

A franchise so synonymous with futility that few outside Arizona can even recall names of years past. A feathered franchise that has migrated from Chicago to Saint Louis only to find a home in the dry deserts of Pheonix. A franchise whose 11 year playoff drought was quenched less than 24 hours ago.

Looking at the two participants, it's hard to envision any scenario where these Cardinals - miracle birds of sorts - last 60 minutes with a team as historically dominating as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Or is there?

Make no mistake about it - these are not your father's Cardinals.

Or your father's father's Cardinals.

Or your father's father's father's Cardinals.

These Cardinals are...different. Arizona's team plays an intelligent yet aggressive style of football that few, including yours truly, had ever realize existed. Under former Steelers’ coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals have climbed the ladder of evolution and ascended into the awe-inspiring aviates of the NFC that their championship suggests they are.


Even the logo indicates there is
something different about these birds.


The names of Pittsburgh's past carry a considerable amount of weight, but the names in Arizona's future may prove just as capable.

Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are not exactly John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, but they are widely regarded as one of the better receiving duos in the league.

Karlos Dansby may never eclipse Jack Ham, but he plays with discipline and rarely makes poor reads in his assignments.

Tim Hightower is not as fast as Barry Foster, but his patience and intelligence as a runner cannot be overlooked.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Clacy Pendergast isn't Dick LeBeau, but his defenses seem well-designed and have proven more capable than given credit for.

Kurt Warner is by no means Terry Bradshaw, but like Terry, he shows toughness in the pocket while orchestrating one of the league's premier offenses.


Kurt Warner has helped establish a turnaround in Arizona.


Many have fallen to the idea that the Arizona Cardinals will simply lay an egg when they face the Steelers in two weeks, but this is not the case. Lead by a determined coaching staff and bright young stars of tomorrow, Pheonix will rise to the challenge and make Super Bowl XLIII one of the most memorable contests in years.

And I cannot wait to see it.
Posted on: January 12, 2009 12:20 am
Edited on: January 12, 2009 12:35 am
 

Top 10 Favorite Cleveland Browns of All-Time


In the context of casual conversation, I am frequently asked, "who is your favorite Cleveland Browns' player?" My immediate response to that question is usually along the lines of, 

"I love the team and enjoy the players."

Cliche, I know - but it's true. Even for a team that has caused nothing but heartbreak and disappointment, I can't help but love them all. Any football player who willingly sacrifices his body and plays with passion for my city has a place in my heart regardless. With that said, there have been players over time that have stepped up to the plate and defined what it means to be a Cleveland Brown. Today I recognize those players that make me so proud to support this organization.

Before I get to this list, I must say it was extremely difficult coming up with only 10. When names like Eric Metcalf, Clay Matthews, Brady Quinn, and Otto Graham don't even crack the list, you know it must have been a tough cut.

Without further ado, Sircheeks presents: My Top 10 Favorite Cleveland Browns of All-Time.


10. Ozzie Newsome (1978-1990)

There's no disputing Ozzie Newsome as the greatest tight end in Cleveland Browns' history. Ozzie spent his entire career with the Browns and highlighted some of those high scoring teams in the early 80s. Newsome has virtually seen it all with the team as he was one of the few players around for "Red-Right 88," "The Drive," and "The Fumble." He was an intrical piece of the Cardiac Kids and was a huge reason Cleveland football was respected so greatly during his day. Ozzie would have been significantly lower had that whole Ravens' GM thing never occurred. Through no fault of his own, I harbor a minor grudge against Newsome, but his exploits as a player were great enough to land him at the number 10 spot.

9. Pepper Johnson (1993-1995)

Johnson makes this list because of not only who he was, but what he represented. Pepper Johnson was an all-American linebacker who graduated from Ohio State University. After learning the game from Bill Parcells in New York, he followed Bill Belichick to Cleveland where he played for the Browns. According to a fantastic book written by David Halberstam, Belichick described Pepper Johnson as a quick, smart, well rounded linebacker who was good in pass coverage and got along well with his teammates. If you asked me what kind of player best represents the prototypical Browns linebacker - that would be it. Johnson makes this list not only because of his collegiate connection to the hometown team, but because he played the game the right way...and for the right people.

8. Courtney Brown (2000-2004)

Ahh yes, Courtney Brown. You never forget your first love, and Courtney Brown was certainly mine. Back when he was drafted with the number one overall selection in the 2000 NFL draft, I fell in love. Brown had the size, reputation, speed, and draft status to transform the Browns' defense into something fierce. In addition to that, he carried that surname which lead me to believe it was a match made in heaven. I was wrong. Courtney Browns was the first real disappointment I experienced on a first-hand basis. For years I pulled for this guy - hoping he would live up to his full potential. Courtney teased me in return - showing flashes of dominance at times while remaining injured on the sidelines at others. Courtney represents my first personal encounter with frustration, and for that he finds his way on this list.

7. Lawrence Vickers (2006-present)

From one man-crush, we go to another. Man, I love me some Vickers! The thing about Lawrence is he plays a position synonymous with Cleveland Browns football, and boy does he play it well. In a league where fullbacks should be monitored and bred on reservations, Vickers plays that hard-nosed position with that old school determination rare in today's game. Though he was never a graceful runner like his Brownie ancestors, Vickers is one of the most punishing blockers the NFL has seen in quite some time. The Cleveland Browns' tradition is built on excellent fullback play, and nothing comforts me more than knowing we still have one of the games' best. Vickers' selflessness and immense talent land him at the number 7 spot, but he very well could be lower if properly utilized.

6. Bernie Kosar (1985-1993)

I prefer to remember Bernie Kosar as the clumsy young quarterback who sent Cleveland to the brink of several championships instead of the man he is today. Kosar does commentary for preseason games, and seems pale and lifeless at times. The man I see on NFL Films and read about was nothing of the sort. Bernie and the Browns gave Cleveland their last taste of excellent football, and for that I could not be more appreciative. The teams he quarterbacked were the most memorable ones in recent history, and he gave youngsters like myself something to refer to for those unaware of his predecessors. My only regret was not being able to see Bernie work his magic with my own eyes. I'm a bit jealous for that reason, which is why Kosar ends up where he is on this list.

5. D'Qwell Jackson (2006-present)

D'Qwell Jackson is a budding star. On a roster where physicality and toughness come at a premium, Jackson brings both on every play. There are very few things or even players to cheer about on today's incarnation of the Browns. We have superstar athletes who lack focus, linebackers who don't tackle, and safeties who shy away from contact. This is precisely why I hold D'Qwell is such high regard: he plays the game properly. His game is still slightly raw and he does make the occasional mistake, but he hustles on every single play. D'Qwell ends up at the 5 spot because he gives me hope for a brighter future. I sincerely hope the attitude and character Jackson exibits on a daily basis permeates every inch of this roster. The Browns have a great football player in D'Qwell Jackson, and I couldn't be happier he wears brown and orange.

4. Bill Willis (1946-1953)

What more could you ask for out of a football player? Willis not only excelled as a defensive lineman at Ohio State, but played his entire Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Browns. Willis was born and raised in the blue collar town of Columbus and played football for Paul Brown at both the collegiate and professional levels. Bill Willis played today's eqivilant of nose tackle in the Browns' formidable seasons. Under his coach, Willis was named all-pro in each of his 8 seasons in the league. He was instrumental in making Ohio football what it is, and his brand of football left a lasting legacy on countless people after him. In addition to his sensational credentials, Willis makes this list for what he went through as one of the first two African Americans to play in the National Football League. His courage and perseverance revolutionized the NFL and opened the door for thousands of minority athletes to enjoy the privilages they do today.

3. Lou Groza (1946-1959, 1961-1967)

Football analysts and broadcasters joke that kickers are not athletes and have no place on the football field. Such a statement is ironic because Lou "The Toe" Groza was one of the greatest athletes in the NFL who happened to be a kicker. Groza, like Bill Willis, was an Ohio product who played at Ohio State and helped establish the tradition of Ohio football. Groza is one of my favorite football players because he was hands down the most versatile player of his era. Groza spent his entire career playing both kicker and offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns. Think about that for a second - kicker and tackle! Could you imagine Joe Thomas or D'Brickashaw Ferguson blocking for an entire game only to kick a game winning field goal as time expires? Absurd. Groza's kicks were a huge part of Cleveland's championship run in the 1950's, and I admire him because of it.

2. Marion Motley (1946-1953)

I laugh when I hear Steelers fans argue Jerome Bettis or Franco Harris invented the power running game. Far from it. If Jerome Bettis is the modern day bus, Marion Motley is the British 1916 Mark-I Tank developed for usage in WWI. To call Marion Motley a bruiser is an understatement. Motley simply abused would-be tacklers, pounding away as the opposition until they quivered with fear. The offense behind Cleveland's dynasty had to come somewhere, and that place was on the back of Motley. To put it in contemporary terms, Marion Motley had the strength of Brandon Jacobs, the vision of LaDainian Tomlinson, the moves of Adrian Peterson, and the determination of Marion Barber. He was that good. In addition to shouldering the load for the Browns, Motley carried another burden with him - bigotry. Motley was the one who broke the color barrier in football along with Bill Willis. My appreciation of his efforts stems far deeper than what he did for the Cleveland Browns.

1. Jim Brown (1957-1965)

The Packers, Rams, 49ers, the Packers again, and the Steelers all passed on Jim Brown in the 1957 NFL Draft. Such fools. I can say with 100% certainty that Jim Brown is the greatest football player to ever play the game...ever. There's no reason for me to describe Jim Brown as a runner. I could talk about his 3 NFL MVP awards, his 5.2 yards per carry career average, or how he made the Pro Bowl in each of his 9 seasons in the league, but it would never do justice to the enigma that is Jim Brown. What's more frightening is he retired at age 29 - clearly in the prime of his career. Jim Brown is the ultimate Cleveland Brown. A living legend, there is no player that did more for this organization than Brown, and he is far and away my favorite Cleveland Brown to ever play the game. 



So there you have it.

The Cleveland Browns have a history rich in tradition and filled with some of the greatest players to ever play the game. The tradition established by the likes of Brown, Groza, Willis and others is simply remarkable. Although the Browns have fallen on hard times of late, the rich history provided by these marquee athletes makes me proud to be a Browns fan.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com